Biden Signs Legislation to Prevent Railroad Strike. D.C., Dec. 2 (Reuters) – On Friday, President Joe Biden signed a bill that would have prevented a nationwide railroad strike in the United States, which would have been catastrophic for the economy.
On Thursday, the United States Senate voted 80 to 15 to force a contract agreement signed in September on a dozen unions representing 115,000 workers, who were on the verge of going on strike on December 9. A bill that would have guaranteed railroad workers access to paid sick days was ultimately defeated in the Senate.
The compromise avoided “an economic catastrophe,” Biden said, adding, “It was tough for me but it was the right thing to do at the moment — save jobs, to protect millions of working families from harm and disruption, and to keep supply chains stable during the holidays.”
Biden Signs Legislation
The agreement was approved by eight of the unions out of a total of 12. The contract has been rejected by workers in four unions due to a lack of paid sick leave, and some union leaders have chastised Biden, a self-described friend of labour, for urging Congress to impose it.
Biden has stated that the fight for sick days is ongoing. To increase profits, railroads have recently reduced spending on labour and other expenses, and they have fought hard against the addition of paid sick time, which would require them to hire additional workers.
A rail strike had the potential to halt over 30% of U.S. cargo shipments by weight, add fuel to already increasing inflation, cost the American economy up to $2 billion per day, and leave millions of rail passengers stranded.
After unions demanded 15 and railroads compromised for one personal day, the proposed agreement included no paid short-term sick days. The vote in the Senate on sick leave was roundly attacked by Teamsters president Sean O’Brien. “The railroad industry is booming. Workers in the rail industry receive no sick pay.
Let me be clear. This struggle is not over. I will do everything I can to make sure that rail workers in America are treated with dignity and respect. pic.twitter.com/WVGLodsr7B
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 1, 2022
Do you think this is acceptable? People should be entitled to paid time off for illness. The current system is broken “According to a tweet by O’Brien. Congress has used its broad jurisdiction to prevent transportation strikes, but it has no such authority in other types of labour conflicts.
I’m LIVE on the floor of the U.S. Senate to ask a simple question: Are any Republicans prepared to stand with rail workers who have ZERO paid sick days or are they instead going to back the outrageous greed of the rail industry? https://t.co/73MaivAJSj
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 1, 2022
After Biden signs the deal, he will receive a 24% compounded wage rise over five years and $5,000 in lump sum instalments each year. “none of the parties achieved what they asked for,” American Association of Railroads CEO Ian Jefferies said, adding, “without a question, there is more to be done to further address our employees’ work-life balance problems.”
This fight isn’t over.
Every worker deserves paid sick leave and dignity.
That’s exactly what I’ll fight for when I get to DC in January.https://t.co/vGFVWlmPsV
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) December 1, 2022
It’s possible that rail workers could have gone on strike the next week if the law hadn’t been passed, but the effects would have been noticed as early as this weekend when railways stopped accepting shipments of hazardous chemicals and commuter railroads cancelled passenger service.
This country needs its rail workers, without them our economy would falter. Thank you @POTUS and Congress for averting a nationwide rail strike and for taking care of our rail companies and their workers.https://t.co/4IcDBkDPF7
— Mayor Erin Mendenhall (@slcmayor) December 3, 2022
Union Pacific (UNP.N), BNSF (BRKa.N), CSX (CSX.O), Norfolk Southern Corp (NSC.N), and Kansas City Southern employees are also covered by the agreements.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the rail workers still strike?
By a vote of 80 to 15, the Senate approved a bill that would prohibit a strike by railroad workers and require unions to accept a tentative agreement negotiated earlier this year between railroad managers and their employees.
Did railroad workers get sick days?
Workers on the railroad get a lot of paid time off each year and even more for serious illnesses.
Why are the rail unions striking?
Just what is the deal with the train drivers going on strike? In September, union representatives and rail companies reached a tentative agreement that would enhance wages for union members. However, many union members voted against the plan because they want to be paid sick days.
Was the railroad strike averted?
On Friday, President Joe Biden signed a law to prevent a freight rail strike, which he said could have triggered a devastating economic downturn in the United States. On Thursday, the Senate and the House of Representatives both passed bills that Vice President Biden signed at the White House.
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